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Traders decry impact of Illegal Market Prohibition Law



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By Osifo Godfrey

The commencement of total enforcement of the Lagos State Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003, has been openly condemned by traders viewing it as threat to their source of livelihood.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had said that the renewed enforcement which is in line with Section One of the Lagos State Street Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law 2003 is to restrict street trading and hawking in the metropolis.

The Law, which imposed a ban of N90,000 or six months imprisonment for both hawker and the patron, seems to have lost popularity as traders take trading to the street and highways again daring the government and damning the consequence.

Iyabo, a regular hawker of herbal drink popularly called {Agbo Jedi jedi} just came from Ibadan to a renewed life of hawking in Lagos. She narrates her ordeal. ‘’ I came to Lagos three months ago. I sell my ware on the streets because I cannot rent a shop. I have an aged mother in the village who depend on the proceeds from this trade. I don’t want to go into prostitution or engage in any illicit trade that is why most of us are doing this. Since the government stopped street trading, I have not been able to help my family financially. I will appreciate if the government can provide jobs for the youth’’ she said.

‘’ Chasing vehicles on traffic is risky. But there is no job in the country. The economy is very bad. Unemployment is on the increase while the cost of living is soaring by the day. One has to do something to keep body and soul together. Banning traffic hawking is another way of making life more miserable for the common man. I personally do not want to go stealing. That is why I am doing this. Every time KAI keeps pursuing us. Where do they want us to go?’ Okechukwu, a traffic hawker at Iju Road opined.

Ifeanyi Madu took to street trading due to the demolition of Oshodi market where he owned a shop. On the promulgation of the Illegal Trade Prohibition Law, he bore his mind ‘’ I am the bread winner of my family. The demolition of my shop in Oshodi market by the same government without providing alternative place is the reason I hawk on traffic’’

The same Law is not merciful to whoever is caught buying. It attracted reactions from motorists who always take advantage of the traffic situation to shop after a hectic day. While some see it as improper for the law to tie patrons to the offence and a booster of social crime and insecurity, few others see it a way of getting rid of hoodlums from the street.

‘’it is not fair to prosecute a man who buys Gala or water to quench hunger or taste. If the government wants to get rid of hawking in the state it should provide legal and affordable shops or markets for the traders instead of coercing the consumer not to buy by imposing laws of infringement on the buyers. By banning hawking in Lagos, can be a threat to the little peace we are enjoying now because the government might just be pursuing them inti robbery’’ A motorists said.

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Johnbull sees the action of the government as proper way of cleaning the streets. ‘’some of these hawkers pretend. They are something different in the true light. Some of them engage in traffic robbery and pick- pocketing. They should just look for something else to do.’’

The Lagos State Trading and Illegal Market Prohibition Law was enacted in 2003, the Ambode administration just enforced it as an aftermath of the Maryland mayhem which left scores of BRT Buses destroyed. But the Lagos State Government said it is using it to correct a whole lot of social anomalies. While addressing a group of journalists, Governor Ambode said, “What we are doing on traffic is that we are introducing new strategies to eliminate traffic but Lagos being a cosmopolitan city, you cannot totally eliminate it but now this is the case, in the next few days, you will see on the street of Lagos signs that will be warning you that buyers and hawkers should be aware that there are consequences,”

He said aside the environmental hazards associated with the activities of street traders and hawkers alike, they also pose great security and health risks.

“A whole lot of people who are hawkers, when you check them, I understand from intelligence that there is a cartel. Some people buy fake products and then bring the products in and then give these boys to sell on the street and come back to make returns in the night. So, what I want to advise Lagosians is that most times when you think you are buying something of quality on the road, be rest assured that those things are fake product,” he added.



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